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Monday, September 11, 2006

Memories

As you are sure to realize already, five years ago today the World Trade Center was destroyed by the suicidal actions of a few individuals. Like many others today (including the major media, the President, and in all likelihood a bevy of bloggers) I feel the need to say something about this tragedy.

Unfortunately, however, I find that the words simply won't come. Most of the time when I think about a blog post the point, and the approach, coalesce readily in my mind. I may not always feel that I am expressing it well, but I at least get to a point when I know what I want to express. This certainty has been denied me when it comes to September 11th.

On one hand, September 11th is an occasion when hate and foolishness triumphed. Certainly by this I refer to the hijackers, who felt so much loathing towards the U.S. that they sacrificed their own lives in order to strike at us- largely targetting civilians. Yet, I don't refer solely to the terrorists here. Since this national tragedy we have behaved in a reprehensible manner. We have established networks of secret prisons, lowered ourselves to engage in torture, an used national heartbreak as a pretext to invade a country that was, certainly not innocent, but at least uninvolved. Indeed, September 11th was a triumph for hatred, but much of it was not the hatred of religious extremists, but of a people who have proven too willing to sacrifice their dignity for base vengeance.

On the other hand, September 11th was also a triumph for love and basic decency. We often remember the images of the towers coming down but, more and more, I find myself remembering the smaller dramas. Not just the firemen struggling upwards in burning buildings, but the untrained individuals who stopped to help others at risk to their own lives. The men and women who ran into the dying buildings to do whatever good they could. I find myself remembering the generosity of New Yorkers who shared water, blankets, and safe places with the shell-shocked survivors of the twin towers. I remember that in the midst of the tragedy there was no hate yet, but rather compassion and decency. I wonder how many of these brave souls lost their lives that day, struggling to save the lives of those they had never met, and I know that we are the better for their sacrifice. They have shown us that within the most common person there may be a noble heart. I sometimes find myself wondering where that nobility has gone to.

Finally, in my darker moments, I think about these two sides of September 11th and wonder if they aren't the same one after all. Do I really think that it was only hate that motivated the hijackers? Do I think that they "hate freedom" as the President would have us believe? Or do I think that they came and killed us, at least in part, because they love their families, their countries, and their god? How different are we from them, marching into other countries and killing those we have never met for the same reasons? How different indeed, because we are also killing those who had nothing to do with September 11th. In my darker moments, I wonder if the world has fallen prey to rampant, unrestrained love that, itself, brings uncontrolled hate.

And so, in the end, I am left with only my memories. My remembrance of the hatred and depravity that we saw that day, as well as the nobility and charity that we witnessed in its shadow. Then, and since, we have seen both the beauty and the horror that is mankind and I find myself rejoicing and despairing in equal measures.

Today is September 11th.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. -D's SF

Monday, September 11, 2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Volscho said...

"to invade a country that was, certainly not innocent, but at least uninvolved."

And by "a country" you mean Saddam Hussein and a few dozen of his associates. The average Iraqi on the street had nothing to do with this and lived in great fear
of Hussein. The good thing is that he is gone, the bad thing is that it has cost so many innocent lives that it probably was not worth it. After all, Saddam Hussein is America's frankenstein in the shadows. From a small-time assassin to a secular Cold War anti-communist bulwark, to the first Gulf War, to the excuse for 9/11.

The sad thing is that a lunatic fascist, acronym UBL or just "Osama", is still out there. Converted to his cause, swelling the ranks of his supporters, the disastrous consequences of an administration hell-bent on milking the last few profits out of the long-term decline of the petroleum industry.

Monday, September 11, 2006 7:49:00 PM  

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